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A deadly monster: Part 1. An overview of the military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate

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Being a "lesser" wrongdoing is obviously both a relative and an absolute matter. Troubled veterans' suicides, which number in the thousands, and are occurring once a day or so, are essentially almost equivalent to murder but by a different name and agent.

Being physically or psychologically maimed for life from having participated in or targeted by a military intervention leaves the victim alive, not dead, but the victim's remaining lifetime condition is almost too awful to imagine. Pulitzer prize winning journalist David Wood reports that "Almost a quarter million Iraq or Afghanistan vets have been diagnosed with mental health injuries from combat service. Many more are not diagnosed, yet go on with their lives while experiencing short-term memory loss, headaches, insomnia, anger or numbness -- conditions that can range from merely annoying to highly disruptive on the job and within the family."[20] 

Author, movie maker and social activist Michael Moore has compiled in a book poignant letters written to him from U.S. soldiers on duty.[21] In the book's inside flap Mr. Moore writes: "---after being lied to about weapons of mass destruction and about the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq; after being forced by stop-loss orders to extend their deployment; after being undertrained, underequipped, and overworked long after George Bush declared Iraq "Mission Accomplished,' these soldiers have something to say." Reading what they have to say is one reason one of this writer's slogans is "honor veterans, dishonor war."  

A nation slowly deteriorating morally and socioeconomically from the lost opportunities for rebuilding America that cannot be done because this triumvirate swallows up 50% or so of the federal government's discretionary budget has to be next in line along the spectrum of  wrongdoing and its consequences. Over 20 trillion dollars reportedly has been spent since 1948 on the military budget. Let's assume for the sake of argument that one-half of that amount is sheer warfare welfare, the other half reflecting a realistic defense budget limited to the costs of responding to attacks on our shores by foreign states and terrorist groups. That means 10 trillion dollars worth of lost opportunities that in a triumvirate-free America would not have been poured down a sinkhole, money that could have been constructively spent over more than a 60-year period on meeting pressing domestic and global needs in employment, education, nutrition, health care, sanitation, you name it. We would be a very different America today, a solidly secure America, an educated America, an employed America, a healthy America, a happy America, and an America at peace with the world.

Actions and consequences spread along the opposite end of that spectrum seem almost too trivial to mention in comparison to those at the other end. Long before the internet era this writer collected and stuffed in to a bulging filing cabinet, newsprint accounts of incidents of various and sundry wrongdoing by the defense industry. Here are four illustrative cases. Arms maker uses front organization to skirt US arms embargo to specified countries. Aerospace firm falsified tests on guidance devices for nuclear arm cruise missies. Defense contractor intentionally padded its estimated expenses during negotiations then took illegally high profits when it completed the work more cheaply. Defense contractors routinely take advantage of poorly written regulations to charge all sorts of questionable expenses to the taxpayers. Few cases of defense contractors defrauding the government are prosecuted.

Ralph Nader, decades later, did his own compiling of news stories and included them along with scores of stories about wrongdoing investigations and lawsuits in other industrial sectors in a recently published book: DoD employees accepting free flights, accommodations and hospitality from private and foreign interest that do business with the Pentagon; thousands of private military contractors operating in Afghanistan; overbilling, faulty products and services and bribery by Halliburton and a subsidiary; offshore manufacturing of integrated circuits for use in military gear; Northrop Grumman's overbilling of improperly tested parts; false claims for bullet-proof vests; cost overruns by the Missile Defense Agency; laxity in prosecuting contractor fraud; and overbilling by tens of millions of dollars work done in Iraq by a company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide. [22] 

Who are "those people?"

Ever wonder who the people are in the triumvirate and among its staunchest supporters? Not one of them was born with a weaponeer's habits in place. What was their upbringing, their education, their socialization? What are their personalities? What kind of families do they have? Do they interrupt their unholy work to attend places of worship? What do they think about their work and careers? Do they rely on moral rationalizations to justify their work or do they take it as a matter of fact or with a sense of patriotic duty and pride? 

The answers to such questions are not meant to be fodder for social gossip. Answering the questions would help reformers targeting the triumvirate to better understand it not in the abstract or institutionally but in the flesh of real people. Without people in them, institutions, systems, and corporations are abstractions. A cursory search of the internet (a dozen pages) surprisingly found no sociological and psychological studies of what kinds of people inhabit this triumvirate and are among its staunchest supporters. If no such studies exist, it is a study begging to be done.  

Other than the US warrior in chief, the top Pentagon and military brass, members of Congress who advance the war agenda, and individuals doing the killing, this writer isn't about to consider all of the rest of "those people" as murderers. They aren't monsters, but they are caught up in a monstrous situation that depends partly on them to continue existing.

In closing

Any way we look at it, the military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate is indeed a monster too destructive, deadly and costly to keep on tolerating. Writing about it has been a dispiriting experience and a relief to finish. This writer is not quite sure how he will experience the writing of the rest of this trilogy other than to continue having the feelings of frustration and futility he already has because it will take major surgery to remove all of this triumvirate's cancerous cells from the sinews of every one of "our" major American institutions and of society itself.

Sources

Note: An excellent, ongoing chronicling of imperialistic, militaristic America is provided by William Blum in his "anti-empire reports" (http://www.killinghope.org). It is free for the asking and anyone opposed to this triumvirate who does not know about Mr. Blum's reports is strongly encouraged to subscribe to them.  

1. From wikipedia 11/22/12.Some companies are subsidiaries of others. A few are located in other countries. Corporations with an asterisk are among the top 25 defense contractors.

2. From Wikipedia.

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I am a retired (1995)organizational psychologist who has since concentrated on the subjects of the collusion between government and corporations and matters of war and peace. I have just finished writing my final book (final because I am staring (more...)
 

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Peace through strength? Only if you believe in sca... by Gary Brumback on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:51:36 PM
Thanks for firing a point-blank shot at the primar... by Angellus Californicus on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 at 8:57:13 PM
And thank you Guber for your positive commentary. ... by Gary Brumback on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 6:49:58 PM
Well researched and important, Gary. You cover a l... by Arlen Grossman on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 at 10:56:53 PM
Arlen, as I said in my separate e-mail to you, tha... by Gary Brumback on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 6:52:10 PM
No need to finish the trilogy, but I would certain... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 6:01:55 PM
Really appreciate your nice remarks and appreciate... by Gary Brumback on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 at 6:53:57 PM